Shame on the Indy for so incautiously and uncritically publishing everything Scott Ritter has to say ("American patriot," cover story, May 4). The one glaring fact missing from the story is that Ritter was paid $400,000 by an associate of Saddam Hussein, Shakir al-Khafaji, after which Ritter produced a "documentary" calling for the end to United Nations sanctions on Iraq. (Al-Khafaji has since been implicated in the oil-for-food scandal involving the U.N. and Saddam Hussein.) Shame on reporter David Rolland for either (a) not knowing about it or (b) not asking about it.
Ritter is also flat wrong on several of his other assertions. He says that Saddam had no intention of reconstituting his WMD programs. The Duelfer Report says just the opposite; Saddam was just waiting for the end of U.N. sanctions something Ritter was advocating, by the way to restart his WMD programs.
Ritter says the present war is "illegal" because it had no specific U.N. authorization. Wrong again. The first Gulf War in 1991, which had the blessing of the U.N., technically never ended; Saddam signed a cease-fire, not a surrender, contingent on his complying with U.N. disarmament procedures, something he then went on to defy for the next 12 years. A unanimous U.N. Security Council in October 2002 demanded that Saddam comply with the U.N. or face the consequences. (It was the 18th such resolution in 12 years.)
Like Ritter, I'm a former Marine, and I, too, relish a good fight. The only difference is, I haven't been bought off by Saddam Hussein.
Then and now
After reading your interview where Scott Ritter labeled as a liar every government leader who asserted Iraq possessed WMD, it would be instructive to read what Mr. Ritter told the press on the subject in 1998, when he resigned as a weapons inspector.
On Aug. 28, 1998, Mr. Ritter told National Public Radio:
"The problem with disarming Iraq right now is that Iraq has failed across the board. There are major questions in chemical. Iraq has a VX program. VX is one of the most deadly substances on the face of the Earth. And we've uncovered this. They refuse to even address the issue. We have major problems with stocks of chemical weapons and chemical agents that are unaccounted for ... Ballistic missiles there's absolute concern that they still retain the capability to deliver chemical and biological weapons through ballistic missiles that they haven't declared."
On Nov. 2, 1998, "Good Morning America" asked Mr. Ritter what WMD Iraq was hiding:
Ritter: "They are hiding their retained capabilities in biological, chemical, nuclear weapons and ballistic missile delivery systems ... I think one of the things that has been in the news recently is the VX nerve agent, one of the most deadly substances known to mankind. Iraq clearly produced this agent in large quantities and put it on ballistic missile warheads. They have lied about that, they have said that they have not done this, despite the fact that we have the proof in our hands."
When asked by "Good Morning America" what the United States should do about the Iraqi WMD, Ritter implied that the United States should go to war: "Economic sanctions won't work, we know that."
These statements directly contradict what Mr. Ritter is peddling these days on the antiwar circuit. Thus, the question arises whether Ritter is lying now or was lying in 1998. In either case, he is a man of very little credibility.
Scott Ritter's Q&A interview should have many people worried about the war in Iraq and the anticipated invasion of Iran. There will be no end to this conflict, because there are too many opponents with differing political motives. Be assured, if Iran is invaded, the whole Middle East will be involved, as well as other Islam nations, such as Indonesia.
Fasten your seat belts. You are in for a rough ride. By the way, I'd like to thank George Bush, Donald Rumsfeld and Condoleezza Rice for dragging Australia into this mess.
Upper Kedron, Queensland,
Looking back over four-plus decades of medical practice, I find great evidence to support Mason Tvert and his SAFER initiative ("Pot shot," cover story, April 27).
When I first practiced medicine, my colleagues and I did not know how to help the patient with alcohol problems. Gradually, we learned (tax the drug, 12-step programs, "it's a disease, not a sin," etc.), and medical care vastly improved.
Tobacco misuse presents a similar history.We no longer sell cigarettes in hospital vending machines, most smoking physicians have stopped, and now we are tackling problems of secondhand smoke. In both tobacco and alcohol misuse, we have progressed, and while the toll is still considerable, our society is far better off.
The SAFER initiative represents coming to grips with another misused but much less dangerous drug, marijuana.It certainly causes less morbidity or mortality than alcohol or tobacco. When we begin to regulate and tax it, I'm confident the research will show this to be factual.
Because mind-altering drugs have always been and probably always will be part of our culture, and because making them illegal makes matters much worse,I call for a rational debate on the issue.The results of alcohol prohibition were widespread lawlessness and growth of organized crime.Is that not what has happened with the criminalization of marijuana?
Do I think marijuana causes us great harm? Yes, personally I have patients, foster children and friends who would have been far better off facing their problems, thereby gaining the internal controls they needed for mature interaction. However, it didn't kill them, it didn't permanently harm their health.It just caused them to do stupid things.
Dale L. Kemmerer, M.D.Colorado Springs
The ugly truth
I had to laugh when I read Cara DeGette's piece in the April 20 issue on the need not to mix politics and science ("Political science," News). Cara cited the ongoing controversy over the Preble's meadow jumping mouse. The ugly truth is that you can get a scientist to tell you whatever you want to hear.
In the Preble's case, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service ran through 20 count 'em, 20 peer reviewers before they found one who would tell them what they wanted to hear. The science is irrelevant. There are thousands and thousands of Prebles in Colorado.
Pete Plage, biologist with U.S. Fish & Wildlife, on Dec. 17, 1998, said, "No, we don't know how many Prebles there are in the state, but fellas, they're really rare."
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Critical Habitat Plan, July 18, 2002: The estimate is there are 50 Prebles per stream mile and 637 stream miles are to be set aside. Fifty times 637 equals 31,850 Prebles.
Bruce Rosenlund, biologist, U.S. Fish & Wildlife, April 14, 2003: "20,000 Prebles would assure the Prebles' viability."
Meanwhile, according to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife's own estimate, the cost to Colorado citizens and taxpayers is $1 million per month.
Robert B. Hoff
When May Day immigration rally organizer Herberth Aparicio says, "We are human beings," it is not the "Shazam!" moment that he imagines.
Laws are created to protect human beings, even immigration laws. Aparicio, who was quoted in a news story ("We are human beings') last week, would do well to research the background of some of those who fund and organize these demonstrations. The May 1 connection to the nationalMarxistholidayof nations enslaved by communism is hard to escape.
Aparicio proclaims,"We are human beings. We have dreams, we want a shot at life ... We are working people who deserve to be treated as human beings." This could describe billions of the starved, underpaid and oppressed peoples of the world. We can't take all into our nation.
Let's look at the Census Population Clock to gain a little perspective from the "we have dreams" arguments for endless open immigration. One birth every eight seconds. One death every 13 seconds. One international migrant every 31 seconds. Net gain of one person every 11 seconds.
Those numbershave our shrinking open spaces in the crosshairs of a population-driven development juggernaut.
I concur with letter writer Michael Ortiz ("He's hungry," May 4)! There should be a more comprehensive food section (besides the requisite advertisements you publish) in the Independent. Although I have lived in Colorado Springs for almost four years and read the Independent every week, I also read Albuquerque's Weekly Alibi, and its food section blows yours out of the water.
The Appetite section is usually the first page I turn to when I get my copy of the Independent, and I have been sorely disappointed (just as Mr. Ortiz) the past few weeks. We foodies crave the expertise of food writers and the updates they may provide about restaurant openings and closings, or the latest buzz in the culinary universe.
Colorado Springs is the chain wasteland of the universe, and the local independent restaurant owners could really use the support of the local independent food writers.
In regards to two separate commentaries printed in the April 27 issue, I have a comment for the two people who focused on the cover art of the Earth Day (April 20) issue, with a woman sitting on a globe. Their blind judgment of simply "art" printed on the cover managed to insult both men and the overall intelligence of our society.
ToTom McElroy and Constance Besaw, I have this to say: For two seemingly intelligent people, your focus on a picture and vague caption on the cover of the progressive and quite intelligent Independent is no less than an example of Tom's statement about the "dumbing-down of society." In your cases, I agree, Tom.
Those that complain just to complain are quite idiotic. Focus on the issues behind the cover and also investigate the opinions of writers in other publications. Then, and only then, can you give a truly concise and intelligent commentary on many issues.
Robert A. Stickney
Truth in advertising
I send my compliments to Tom Fagan, the author of "Colorado's natural wonder" (Letters, April 27). His letter addressed an issue larger than one billboard, and that is the lack of sense and/or proper grammar in many advertisements. If the purpose of advertisements is accuracy and/or relevance, then:
1. How does a beard with a mind of its own have anything to do with a small, artificially flavored candy?
2. How do small children laying outside relate to an establishment with florescent lighting that serves burgers with enough calories to stop a herd of charging elephants?
3. How does a beautiful countryside have any relevance to a vehicle that pollutes enough on its own to kill every plant within a 5-foot radius of the vehicle?
4. How does the name "Antelope Run" relate to a huge expanse of beige houses where more antelope are hit by cars than actually run free?
5. Why doesn't the rabbit just steal the cereal and/or yogurt and guzzle it before the kids find out?
6. Many ads boast that their product works better. My question is, "Better than what, a rock?"
Case in point: Advertisements are just one big attempt to push aside logic so you feel that you absolutely and positively require their product to experience pure happiness that is, until the next product comes out.
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